Amis, Martin ā´mĭs
, 1949–, English novelist; son of Kingsley Amis
. The younger Amis, who turned from literary journalism to fiction, invites comparison with his father through his choice of career and style. Often writing satire so bitterly sardonic it goes far beyond his father's caustic comedy, he has exposed the darker aspects of contemporary English society in his novels. Among them are The Rachel Papers
(1973), Dead Babies
(1984), London Fields
(1990), The Information
(1995), Yellow Dog
(2003), The Pregnant Widow
(2010), and Lionel Asbo: State of England
(2012). His short-story collections include Heavy Water and Other Stories
(1999). Among his nonfiction works are the short pieces, mainly literary essays in The War against Cliché
(2001) and The Rub of Time
(2017). In his literary criticism, Amis tends to favor style over matter; his particular stylistic heroes are Vladamir Nabokov
and Saul Bellow
. His Koba the Dread
(2002) is an examination of Stalinism's horrors and the attitudes of Western intellectuals toward the Soviet regime. The novel House of Meetings
(2006) treats similar themes—the Gulag
and Stalinist atrocities. He explores the Holocaust in his novels Time's Arrow
(1991), the story of a Nazi concentration camp doctor told in reverse chronological order, and The Zone of Interest
(2014), which treats intimacy, the banality of evil, and the horrors of the Nazi genocide. The essays and stories in The Second Plane September 11
(2008) are collectively a polemic that condemns Islamic fundamentalism and Islamist terrorism.
See his memoir Experience (2000); biography by R. Bradford (2012); studies by J. Diedrick (1995, repr. 2004), J. A. Dern (2000), G. Keulks (2003 and, ed., 2006).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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